Unsigned 96.9 unveils upstarts

by | Mar 14, 2014 | A&E

Nick Jean
A&E Reporter

They are all Canadian, have no corporate connections, and you’ve probably never heard of them.

If history is any indication however, many of them will become household names.

They are the musicians featured on Radio Humber’s Unsigned 96.9, a program featuring the work of second-year radio broadcasting diploma program students. The show just began its milestone 10th season last month.

“Students need to get experience interviewing musicians and creating programming … separate from playing a song or talking about (a musician),” Unsigned creator and executive producer and program faculty Paul Cross said.

“Well over 500 performers (have been) interviewed and featured on the show,” he said, adding many of them have gone on to win Junos and Grammys.

One episode he highlighted featured Tegan and Sara, Alexisonfire and Arcade Fire. That was in February 2005, just about the time each act started to garner massive media attention.

Each student in the course is required to find and interview a Canadian songwriter who has not yet been signed by a major label. This forces the students to better understand the Canadian music scene.

“I’ve definitely gotten more of a taste for independent, lesser-known Canadian artists,” said Lindsay Godin, 22, a current student in the course.

“Their work tends to be very heartfelt. It’s honest. It’s what they want to do,” Godin said of the musicians’ Unsigned features.

The program has taught students about more than just the music.

“It’s all about making sure the listener is going to like it,” said Godin’s classmate David Chung, 20. “You can have the best content in the world but if you can’t make the listener care about it then it’s worthless.”

Unsigned 96.9 airs every Wednesday night following the 9 p.m. news. Each episode repeats Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 10 p.m.

“I’m always really happy to hear Unsigned come on the air because I think the students do a tremendous job,” Cross said.

Celebrating Canadian Music

Unsigned isn’t the only effort Radio Humber is putting into advancing the cause of independent Canadian artists.

For the second year in a row they are putting on their Celebrating Canadian Music concert at LinX on Humber’s North campus this Thursday.

Radio Humber Promotions Director Kylee Winn-Thurrott conceived the show as “something for the students that was free while showcasing new and upcoming bands that we play … and we think the students would be interested in.”

The free show runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, and will feature Humber Journalism student Edward Sayers alongside The Turks, HIGHS and Blue Sky Miners.